Synopses & Reviews
FAMOUS is a short illustrated poem. Both text and illustrations have a charmingly ironic take on what it means to be "famous." At once simple and profound, it "opens minds and hearts." Ironically, it is this famous poet's most famous poem, with an established fan base! FROM THE POET: Over the years when I visited schools, students of all ages gathering in their libraries or auditoriums would often clamor to ask me, Are you famous, Miss?” before I even began speaking about writing. The concept confounded me. Of course I could never say Yes” and I realized that saying No” might mean they would be less attentive, so I meditated on the oddity of the word and the concept itself and wrote this little poem that I could read whenever they asked. Sometimes they thought I was trying to trick them. Huh? Sometimes they laughed. But they always paid good attention afterwards, and I liked that the poem might bend their idea of what the word even means. Sometimes I started by saying Everything is famous if you notice it. Sure, heres my answer.” I think the poem has served me well. My biggest surprise has been, everyone always wants me to read this poem. I guess it is one of my three most often-requested poems. Teachers always mention it. Parents have told me they copy it on graduation cards for their high school seniors. Ive seen it hand-printed on posters in many classrooms. Students participating in UIL public speaking competitions often recite it. Its been printed on more than one standardized test. I allow it to be printed because I like to imagine students can have friendly moments even while taking ominous tests. Book artist Lisa Desimini, whose work I cherish and delight in, honored me by wanting to illustrate this poem and create a visual experience for the poem as well. Lisa and I imagine Famous as a possible gift book for people of all ages. People who have been famous to us, whom we wish to encourage, who are at a crossroads, who are graduating, who are nervous about the future, who want to be more or other than they are
“Naomi Shihab Nye’s charmed and charming poem ‘Famous’ is about knowing and being known, a testament to the secret enchantment we carry inside ourselves.” —Edward Hirsch, president, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation
“The word is famous to the poet as the image is famous to the artist. This poet and artist have created a thought-provoking gem of a book sure to inspire you to think deeply about the true meaning of fame.” —Doris Gebel, past president, U.S. Board on Books for Young People
Naomi Shihab Nye is one of the most beloved poets in America, and the poem “Famous” is literally her most famous poem. It has been used in countless commencement speeches—from elementary school to university graduations. At once simple and profound, this illustrated version of the poem is a charmingly ironic take on what it means to be “famous.” It is a perfect gift book for people of all ages—for those who need encouragement, who are at a crossroads, who are graduating, who are nervous about the future, or who want to be more or other than they are.
About the Author
Lisa Desimini graduated from The School of Visual Arts. Since then she has illustrated over thirty books for children. Nine of them she has written herself. Her books include, MY HOUSE which was one of the New York Times Ten Best illustrated Books of the Year. LOVE LETTERS by Arnold Adoff was a Publishers Weekly and School LIbrary Journal Best Book of the Year and a BCCB Blue Ribbon Book. Other titles include, HOW THE STARS FELL INTO THE SKY by Jerrie Oughton, DOODLE DANDIES by J. Patrick Lewis, ANANSI DOES THE IMPOSSIBLE by Verna Aardema and DOT THE FIRE DOG, which has sold over 300,000 copies. Lisas work has also graced the cover of many book jackets, including WALK TWO MOONS by Sharon Creech; ANIMAL DREAMS, THE BEAN TREES, and PIGS IN HEAVEN, by Barbara Kingsolver; and THE SOOKIE SERIES, by Charlaine Harris. Lisa and her husband, Matt Mahurin, collaborated on MY BEAUTIFUL CHILD, of which School Library Journal said, ...this volume lends itself to imaginative contemplation in its sense of joy and wonder.” Matt and Lisa live in Topanga, CA One of San Antonios best known writers, Naomi Shihab Nye has been called a national treasure.” She refers to herself as a wandering poet.” Indeed, for 40 years she has traveled the world giving readings and teaching workshops on six continents. She is the author of two dozen books of poetry for all ages, novels for young adults, short story collections, essays, and childrens books. She is the editor of three anthologies, including This Same Sky: A Collection of Poems from around the World, which contains translated work by 129 poets from 68 different countries. This Same Sky (Simon and Schuster) has been in print since 1992. She has won many awards and fellowships, including four Pushcart Prizes, the Jane Addams Childrens Book award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, and many notable book and best book citations from the American Library Association. She has held numerous fellowships and residencies, including a Witter Bynner Fellowship. Nye was In 2009, she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2009. That same year she was named as one of PeaceByPeace.coms first Peace heroes.” In October 2012, Nye was named laureate of the 2013 NSK Neustadt Prize for Childrens Literature. Ibtisam Barakat, the juror who championed Nye for the award wrote, Naomis incandescent humanity and voice can change the world.” Nyes work is often based on her heritage as as Arab-American (Palestinian). Her novel Habibi is a semi-autobiographical story of an Arab-American teenager who moves to Jerusalem in the 1990s. Her perspective, however, is global, yet very grounded in specific places. For example, Nyes first collection of poems, Different Ways to Pray (Breitenbush, 1980), set out to explore similarities and differences between cultures, a theme that permeates all her work. Hugging the Jukebox (Dutton, 1982), which received the Texas Institute of Letters Poetry Prize, also focused on the connections between diverse peoples. Her other books include numerous poetry collections, including 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East (HarperCollins, 2002), Yellow Glove (Breitenbush, 1986), Words Under the Words: Selected Poems (Eighth Mountain Press, 1994), What Have You Lost? (Greenwillow, 2001), A Maze Me: Poems for Girls (Greenwillow Books, 2005), Red Suitcase (Consortium, 1994), Field Trip and Fuel (BOA Editions, 1998), You and Yours (BOA Editions, 2005), Honeybee: poems and short prose (Greenwillow, 2008), Tender Spot: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, 2008), Transfer (BOA Editions, 2011). She is also the author of a collection of essays entitled Never in a Hurry: Essays on People and Places (University of South Carolina Press, 1996); a short story collection, There Is No Long Distance Now: Very Short Stories (Greenwillow, 2011); illustrated childrens books, includeing Sittis Secrets (Aladdin Picture Books, 1997), Benitos Dream Bottle (Simon and Schuster, 1995), and Lull